In Memoriam: Franco Zeffirelli, Golden Globe Winner,1923-2019

by Luca Celada June 15, 2019
Director Franco Zeffirelli, Golden Globe winner

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Golden Globe winner Franco Zeffirelli passed away at the age of 96.  The Italian director found fame as an opera director, staging grand productions around the world and later as director of Shakespearean film adaptations such as The Taming of the Shrew (1967), with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard BurtonRomeo and Juliet (1968) and Hamlet (1990). Romeo and Juliet was one of three of his films to receive a Golden Globe nomination and was good for a Globe win. Other nominees were La Traviata (1983) and Otello (1987), two of his numerous filmed operas.

A fervent and orthodox Catholic (who nevertheless had to contend with accusations of sexual impropriety), Zeffirelli also directed Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972) about the life of St. Francis of Assisi and the TV miniseries Jesus of Nazareth (1977). In Italy, where his Roman villa on the Appian Way was notorious as a hub of Dolce Vita and glamorous grandeur, he was alternately revered and reviled by the liberal cultural establishment which considered him a relic. Definitely an artistic maximalist Zeffirelli eschewed experimentation and modernism in favor of unapologetic traditionalism - in art as in life – as well as subsequently in politics when he was elected to the Italian Parliament in Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party.